Ibike Korea People-to-People Program


Photo essay: Gayasan and Haeinsa

  After leaving the valley floor, heading up to Gayasan, the predominate agriculture is apples.  At this time the trees were heavily laden and roadside vendors were selling apples by the case.  Bicyclists seem to be a special case.  I have never bicycled up the mountain without being offered a free apple or a half dozen -- just the validation helps keep the chin up and the legs a little stronger.
    Kayasan (mountain) part of the Sobaik Mountain RangeGayasan (mountain) is part of the Sobaik Mountain Range.  It is part of Gayasan National Park, and is considered a spiritual mountain and one of the eight scenic places in Korea.  Scenic places come in groups of eight: There are the eight most scenic place in a county, on a coast, in the mountains, etc.  But Gayasan is at the top because it is one of the eight best in the country.  It is a popular hiking destinations for Koreans.
  Pagoda, site of Peopusa (temple) Kayasan (mountain) part of the Sobaik Mountain RangeThis pagoda stands alone high in the Gaya Mountains, at the former site of Peopusa (temple), built during the reign of Aejangwang (r. 800-809) of the Unified Silla Kingdom.  The pagodas double base and three stories are typical pagodas of the Unified Silla period (668-918).  Pagoda always had an odd number of stories.
  advertising signs, Gayasan National Park, Korea Gayasan, Fusion Cafe, KoreaRoad through Gayasan National Park, KoreaThe National Parks policy in Korea does not include trying to keep them in pure natural states.  There are new large enclave hotels and roadside commercial buildings.  Even high in the Gaya mountains you can find a curtain of advertising signs.  Signs for advertising and announcing events are nearly omnipresent across the country.
  South Korean farm land South Korean farm landIt seems to be difficult to catch the beauty of the farms with the camera, despite dozens of attempts.  Fortunately, even without the perfect picture, we got to enjoy some very tranquil scenery.
  Nongsanjeong: retreat of Master Goun Choe Chiwon Nongsanjeong: This is the retreat where Master Goun Choe Chiwon, a prominent Confucian scholar towards the end of the Silla dynasty searched for truth.  The inside of the pavilion contains poems and writings of the Master.
  Chinese characters carved in stone Autumn color, South KoreaIn the rocks in and around the river are etched with an enormous amount of Chinese lettering.  Some of it is identified as poems and verse (i.e. graffiti carved in stone.)  The scene was sweetened with a little fall color (right).
  Fall follage, bridge, Gayasan National Park, Korea

Fall follage, bridge, Gayasan National Park, Korea

Scenic river with Chinese characters carved in rocks, Gayasan National Park, Korea Chinese characters carved in stone, Gayasan National Park, Korea Fall follage, Gayasan National Park, Korea Chinese characters carved in rocks, Gayasan National Park, Korea statue of horse, Gayasan National Park, Korea





Scenic river, fall foliage, graffiti (actually spiritual messages) carved in stone and a horse monument are among many interesting sights that grace the road to Haeinsa.

  Buddhist monument, Gilsang-am, Haeinsa Buddhist monument, Gilsang-am, HaeinsaA large and elaborate monument along the road into the Gaya mountains, on the way to Haeinsa (temple) is part of Gilsang-am (hermitage).  Part of the importance of Gilsang-am is it includes Jeokmyeolbogung, the pray place where Buddha's bones from Sri Lanka are preserved.  Indicative of its importance, gifts are frequently left at the base of the statues.
  Buddhist monument, Gilsang-am, Haeinsa Buddhist monument, pagoda, Gilsang-am, Haeinsa Buddhist monument, Gilsang-am, Haeinsa Buddhist monument, Gilsang-am, HaeinsaThe pagoda has a double base and five stories.
  Haeinsa Tourist Town Haeinsa Tourist Town: The Korean version of a theme town (i.e. Bavaria, Tudor, Art Deco, etc).  This one is Korean Buddhist Kitsch.  If you are visitor and need food, lodging or a souvenir this town is set up to serve you - multiple times over.
  mini-stupas-stacks-of-stones, Haeinsa Temple Memorial stele, Haeinsa TempleApproaching Haeinsa, and near other temples and sometimes scenic locations, are mini-stupas-stacks-of-stones.  These are intended to invoke the Buddha.

There are also a number of other steles, monuments and pagodas commemorating important people associated with Haeinsa.

  Gate, Haeinsa Temple Gates, stairs and roofs are all finely detailed.  Typically, there are three gate one must go through as they approach a temple.  Each has its own symbolism and purpose.  Generally, they symbolize the transition from the earthly realm and to the spiritual realm, and the interconnectedness of the two.Kooksa altar, Haeinsa Temple

Before the Nirvana Gate (third gate) is the Kooksa Altar,  In what is a fusion of Buddhism and local traditional religion, this altar houses the mountain god who manages the mountain and Guksa, the great god guarding a Buddhist temple. At Haeinsa, Jeongkyeonmoj, who was a founder of the temple and a patron saint of Gayasan, is enshrined here.

  Haeinsa (temple) Roof line, Haeinsa TempleHaeinsa (temple) is one of the ten main temples of the Hwaom sect.  According to the Gayasan Hainsa Sunanjuwonbyukki written by Choi Chi Won, Haeinsa was built by two monks named Suneung and Ijong in 802.  The name Haeinsa originated from :"Haein Sammae" of the Hwaom scriptures.  Haeinsa is the place where Hwaom ideas are accomplished.
  Monk using cell phone, Haeinsa Temple Ondol accommodations, Haeinsa TempleWe were granted permission by the monks to stay overnight (pre-arranged) at Haeinsa.  The rooms are "ondol" (heated floors, with mats to sleep on -- no beds) and no accessories, except for electric lights -- though it is interesting reflect on the use of cell phones by monks and the monetary now has a high speed internet connection..  Beside touring the environs, as is expected of guests, we participated in the major activities during the period of our brief stay: paying our respects to Buddha, evening drum ritual, lights out at 9PM, 3:30 AM pray ceremony and 6 AM breakfast.
  bell / drum pavilion, Haeinsa Temple Monk drumming, bell / drum pavilion, Haeinsa TempleMajor temples have a bell / drum / gong pavilion, usually near the gate.  There are four instruments:  The hide covered drum calls animals of the land.  The wooden fish-shaped slit drum calls the creatures of the water.  The flat metal cloud-shaped gong calls the animals of the sky. And, the large bronze bell calls all spirits.  They are played a couple time a day to alert all the creatures and spirits to hear..


    Hide drum, Haeinsa Temple Wooden fish-shaped slit drum, Haeinsa Temple Metal cloud-shaped gong, Haeinsa Temple Bronze bell, Haeinsa Temple
  In front of the bell pavilion is the Haeindo (Mandara),  Buddhists believe that if they circle around the stone design of the Haeindo (square maze) while praying their desires will be accomplished.

Also in the plaza is a spring / drinking fountain that is said to have very pure water.

  Haeinsa Daejeokgwangjeon

Haeinsa Temple

Monks sweeping Haeinsa Temple

Haeinsa TempleHaeinsa Daejeokgwangjeon, where the statue of Birojanabul is enshrined as the main Buddha, is the central sanctuary of Hwaom Buddhism in Korea. Through his actualization of the Buddha's teaching, which are believed to be as brilliant as the sun that illuminates the heavens, Birojanabul has become a figure symbolic of Buddhist truth itself.  It was originally built in 802.

Monks living quarters, Haeinsa TempleMost of the buildings at the temple fall into two categories; living quarters and those used for prayer/study.  There are a number of shines used for pray.  We joined the monks for their first prays of the day at 3:30 a.m. They then do chore, have breakfast at 6 a.m. and then study or pray in one of the shrines for the morning.  The juxtaposition of nature, the multiple graceful rooflines of the building, the changing light and the ambiance of activity (including chanting), generates a very spiritual aura.Outside the monks living quarters, Haeinsa Temple

  Pagoda, Haeinsa Temple Pagoda, Haeinsa TempleThis pagoda, with its two part foundation, three story structure and roof stone, is typical of the style of late Unified Shilla (668-918).  In 1926, during the renovation of this pagoda, nine small individual Buddhist figure were discovered inside a stone chest on the uppermost support.  After renovation was completed, these statures were re-enshrined in the pagoda.
  Pagoda and lantern, Haeinsa Temple Stone lantern, Haeinsa TempleStone lanterns were made to remove the darkness within temples where Buddha rested. Because lanterns are connected to the offering of lanterns for Buddha, they are usually located in front of the main sanctuary together with stone pagodas representing Buddha.
  exterior motif, Haeinsa Temple
These panels illustrate events in Buddha's life.


exterior motif, Haeinsa TempleBoth the interior and exterior of the temples are elaborately painted. These exterior panels record events important to Buddhism.

Basic temple etiquette:

  • Generally be quiet
  • Wear long pants
  • Don't enter a temple or room directly in front of Buddha, use a side door (some senior monks are given this privilege.)
  • exterior motif, Haeinsa TempleRemove you shoes, but no bare feet (wear socks), when entering a temple.
  • Pay your respect to Buddha by bowing three times
  • Don't take pictures while inside a temple
  • If you eat a meal, eat all the rice you take

exterior motif, Haeinsa Temple exterior motif, Haeinsa Temple exterior motif, Haeinsa Temple

  pagoda, Haeinsa Temple I am fascinated by how the descriptions of most buildings and monuments are written.  Besides giving the history, legends and context of the items they often also give technical descriptions of the construction, architecture and size -- a lot of numbers that would not be of much interest to most Western visitors, but clearly information perceived to be of interest to Korean visitor, who make-up 95% or more of the visitor to all of these heritage sites.
  Entrance to Haeinsa Janggyeongpanjeon (Janggyeongpan Hall) the home of 80,000 wooden Haeinsa Janggyeongpanjeonblocks of the Tripitaka Korean, a complete set of Buddhist texts.  The engraving was preceded by four years of preparation and took place between 1237-48.

Janggyeongpanjeon is composed of four buildings.  They are presumed to have been built around 1448.

  Tripitaka Koreana, Haeinsa Janggyeongpanjeon These are the stacks for wooden blocks of the Tripitaka Koreana.  The blocks were carved by the Daejangdogam (the department in central government responsible for the project) during the reign ofTripitaka Koreana, Haeinsa Janggyeongpanjeon King Gojong.  Daejanggyeong refers to a collection of all the scared writings of Buddhism.

Made to protect the nation with the power of Buddhism against the Mongolian Invasion, the Tripitaka Koreana is recognized as the most accurate Tripitaka in history.  Sugidaesa (Sugi, the Great Buddhist Monk), who was in charge of the project, took care to correct errors after a thorough study of the Northern Song Tripitaka, the Kitan Tripitaka and the Old Tripitaka Koreana. 

  Yeogji "shadow pond", Haeinsa Temple Legend has it that seven princes retired to a mountain to enter the priesthood.  Queen Heo, their mother, worried about her sons  who renounced the world to enter the priesthood and tried several times to meet them.  She never could meet her seven sons who had already forgotten the world long ago.  She saw in the pond only the reflected shadow of the irresistible yearning for her sons.  This pond is call Yeogji which means "shadow pond".  The peaks on the right side of Gayasan have been called "Chilgulbong" which means seven Buddha peaks.  At Chilbulsa of Ssanggyesa there is a similar Yeogji legend.
  Pagoda, Haeinsa Temple In 1966, four sheets of paper and other offered items were found in this pagoda.  The pages were written by Choe Chiwon, the most famous calligrapher of the late Silla Dynasty.  The pages say that the pagoda was built to appease the souls of the monks who died guarding the treasures of the temple from thieves.
  Hongje-Am, Haeinsa Hongje-Am: This small temple was built in 1608 to be given to the Master Samyeong by King Seonjo in appreciation of the monks contribution to national defense through raising monks' army during the Japanese invasion of 1592. Master Samyeong's stupa is nearby.  It was made in 1610, when the priest died and contains his sarira.
Wondang-Am, Haeinsa Wondang-Am: This hermitage next to Haeinsa specialize in meditation sessions for lay people.  Sessions can be for a weekend, week, month or even longer.

Goryeong Hoeyang

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